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Jesse Dulman Quartet – Live at Downtown Music Gallery

One of Egon’s top picks for newly-recorded jazz album of the moment: Jesse Dulman Quartet – Live at Downtown Music Gallery – limited to 250, 180 gram vinyl LP copies and issued only in Estonia on the small indie RRGems Records. These are the last copies available. 

Tuba player Jesse Dulman has been making the rounds in avant garde jazz on stage and in the NYC subways. Recorded in July 2017, this is an enthralling set of wild ‘n’ woolly, let-‘er-rip free jazz thankfully forgoing self-absorbed abstractness.

“At Making Amends to Chelsea the Neighborhood” is mournful yet oddly celebratory, its structure almost a march, evoking New Orleans funeral parades. Tuba to some degree functions as a bass, anchoring the music, giving it a bottom yet, in the manner of the bassists in Bill Evans’ trios, also interacts with the other horns, at times sounding like a very deep trombone. Ras Moshe’s tenor saxophone is supple and sonorous, Dave Sewelson’s baritone makes with mighty blues-inflected gusts, ecstatically testifying in the manner of a tenor. Drummer Leonid Galaganov rumbles and clatters, providing less of a beat or swing than punctuation.

This piece brings to mind the raw, visceral, bigger-ensemble phase(s) of Albert Ayler, especially his seminal album Bells. The structure of “Blues for Lettie” is a bit more like a standard midtempo ‘50s rhythm and blues tune, one saxophones shrieking cathartically, the other woefully bopping in bluesy fashion. The longest piece, the whole-side “Homage to Charles McGee, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre and Will Connell”, is the wildest, tensest and catchiest track. Saxophones offer freewheeling, energized solos while drums plod in an ironic fashion as the ensemble frequently returns to a melodic fragment that sounds like the madly catchy chorus of the early ‘60s Little Peggy March hit “I Will Follow Him”. Dulman creates billows that are oddly soothing, the calm in the eye of the hurricane.

The musicians get the most expressiveness from the instruments they can, yet it never comes off as that for its own sake, all playing with a palpable sense of unity and intuitiveness. If you thrill to the more roots-y side(s) of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Julius Hemphill (you haven’t heard his album Dogon AD?!?), Steve Lacy and Arthur Blythe, get to this (limited-edition) record.

(Review by Mark Keresman in The New York City Jazz Record)